Updated: Apr 17, 2022
Although chronic illness doesn't affect everyone the same way, most people agree that their condition prevents them from living the life they want. Whether it's pain, fatigue, depression, or mental fog keeping you from your desired activities, a healthy lifestyle can give you hope. Try adopting some of these simple health strategies into your day-to-day routine. Not only will your body feel better, but your mental health will improve as well!
1. Clean the Air in Your Home
Indoor air quality has a greater impact on your health than you may think. Since most of us spend about 90 percent of our time indoors, we must pay attention to the toxic chemicals and allergens that circulate in our home environment. Poor indoor air quality can cause a variety of symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and congestion. Toxins in the air may even contribute to depression and cardiovascular disease.
Improve your home’s air quality by using non-toxic cleaning products, avoiding air fresheners, ventilating your home properly, purifying your air through a HEPA filter, or cleansing the air your breathe by diffusing essential oils (companies, such as doTERRA, produce high-quality, thoroughly-tested oils that are made in the country where that plant grows best). Additionally, it's important to change your furnace filters regularly. And should you encounter any mold inside your home, you need to contact a professional to remove it right away. Also clean your home regularly to improve your air quality and remove possible allergens.
2. Cut Back on Sugary Beverages
Health experts at the Harvard School of Public Health recommend that we restrict our beverage consumption to water. After all, this is the only beverage our bodies really need. Most other drinks are high in calories and devoid of nutrients. Even fruit juice is loaded with sugar and lacks many of the key vitamins and minerals that make whole fruit good for us. Too much sugar in your diet can exacerbate feelings of depression, anxiety, and even impact your cognitive abilities. So, instead of grabbing a cup of juice or a can of soda, stick to water, plain tea, or black coffee.
3. Walk for 20 Minutes Each Day
According to Everyday Health, exercise is one of the best ways to manage the problems associated with chronic conditions. Even low-impact exercises, like walking, can help with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, inflammation, depression, and anxiety. For people who are unable to participate in the activities they love due to persistent pain, aerobic exercise may be the ticket to a fulfilling life. For those with diabetes, exercise will help the body control glucose levels and insulin sensitivity—this prevents further health complications down the line. The best part? Walking for just 20 minutes every day is enough to improve your health!
Adequate sleep is crucial for mood control, cognitive functioning, and weight loss. Following a bedtime routine is one of the best ways to maintain a consistent sleep-wake schedule and ensure you get your recommended seven to nine hours every night. No Sleepless Nights suggests spending at least 15 minutes of your evening participating in calming activities, such as these:
Meditation or deep breathing
Listening to music
Light snacking on sleep-friendly foods (yogurt, nuts, bananas)
5. Destress Whenever Possible
Stress is terrible for our bodies and often worsens symptoms of chronic conditions. Focus on relieving stress whenever you have a couple of minutes of free time. If you have just five minutes during a busy workday, do some easy stretches like arm and leg stretches and neck rolls, or just close your eyes and focus on your breath—you might even want to try breathing in some grounding essential oils, like lavender or Hawaiian sandalwood. ZenBusiness recommends breathing deeply and becoming aware of what triggers your stress. If you have 30 minutes, do some yoga or read a book. Your mind will benefit from a break, no matter how short. If your home is cluttered and disorganized, it could cause anxiety and a loss of focus. Go room by room cleaning and decluttering to create a more positive living environment.
For someone with a chronic illness, the pathway to good health can seem long and riddled with obstacles. Fortunately, even small, healthy changes in your lifestyle can make a noticeable difference in how you feel on a daily basis. Although you may not be able to cure your illness, taking care of your body and mind will put you on track to the life you want.
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Ed Carter, founder of AbleFutures, has worked with clients of all ages, backgrounds, and incomes. About 10 years into his career, he saw a need for financial planners who specialize in helping individuals and families living with disabilities.